Spanish in general, and Madrileños in particular, are ‘nomadic drinkers’; they will very often hit 8 or 10 bars in a quiet night out. With bars open 24-hours, however, the atmosphere is more one of a relaxed ‘migration’ than a frantic pub-crawl.
For real Spanish flavour the tiny, tobacco-stained, barrel-lined dive of La Venencia (Echegaray, 7) is Madrid’s homage to Jerez (sherry) and is worth a visit to try some of the many tipples on offer.
While every Spaniard is a wine and sherry aficionado, of sorts, beer remains totally undistinguished. A bar is unlikely to have more than one brand of beer on tap (Mahou, San Mig or, if the place is really cosmopolitan, Andalusian Cruzcampo or Heineken) and it is unusual for a local to have any preference at all. Typically he will simply ask for una caña, which is small enough so that it will never get warm at the bottom and leaves just enough time for a conversation and a tapa before moving on.
Every Spanish waiter will be au fait with more than twenty different coffee mixes and can guarantee just the right hue in your con leche, cortado, corto-de-leche, corto-de-café, sombra, semi-cortado…without the aid of a colour chart.
Madrilenes are used to spend their time moslty out side doors at the pubs, tapas bars and restauarants with their family, friends or co-workers. The many local pictorseque tabernas arevery popular amongst the locals and amongst them are the eldest ones in Europe. Service is often very fast and the quality of the food is -- either if the restaurant is a cheap one or expensive one -- supurb. There are hundreds of bistro's and restaurants varying from cheap ones where you can have a dinner for about 5 euro upto one of the best restaurants in Europe. Nowadays Asians are running some of the more popular restaurants in chueca as well Bask people are known as the best coocks in Madrid. Of course there also fast food restaurants, like the international ones but also the spanish ones like Pans and Co or Telechef. In the bistro you willmostly find the menu, which is meant as the dish of the day, and is cheap. In the restaurant you get the carta, which is the list of specialties, starting with the sopas (soups) ensalades (salads), tortillas (omlets), verduras (vetgetables), plato principal (main dish: meat or fish) and the postre (desert)
Most restaurants have a menu del dia (menu of the day) a three course menu with a cheap fixed prize. On all the bills there is 7 percent IVA (tax) its not common to tip. Most restaurants accept visa or mastercard. Its of big importancethat you make a reservation for the restaurant in advance especially for the trendy ones like in chueca, you can do this by telephone. In Spain the gouvernment is on about a campaign to supress smoking, and in one year from now it ll be forbidden in most of the restaurants.
Tapas are basically small portions of different typical foods you share. They are thus a great way of tasting the huge variety of Spanish dishes.
Tapas include "raciones", "canapes", and "croquetas" and my suggestion is try them all!
By the way, don´t worry if you don't understand the menu, most tapas bars have their tapas on display at the bar so you can simply point at what looks appealing to you.
At first I wasn't sure about the concept of a cold soup, but when I was studying in Madrid it sounded like a good idea at the time because every day it was as hot as a tar road in Tennessee. Besides, I liked all the ingredients (tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables). I loved my first go of gazpacho at the Cisneros Dining Hall at the Complutense. It is a treat on a hot day. RECIPE:
1 slice of bread
1 clove of garlic
1/4 litre olive oil
Place the peppers without pips or centre, the peeled cucumbers, tomatoes, peeled garlic, bread, oil, vinegar, and salt into the beater. Crush and add water to taste. Serve cold. It can be garnished with pieces of cucumber, tomato, bread, and peppers.
Tapas are such a big deal in Madrid that they invented the verb "tapear" (to go eat tapas). There are numerous places to go and have a drink and tapas (small snacks that accompany the drink). The areas around Plaza Mayor and Plaza Santa Cruz are particularly popular, but you'll find tapas all over town. Here is a picture of a very common tapas dish (this is a large portion called a "racion"), jamon iberica and queso, which is top-quality iberian ham and aged Spanish Manchego cheese. It was delicious.
Guía del Ocio, the essential weekly publication of what’s on in the city, lists more than 500 restaurants in Centro catering for every taste from Afrodisiaca to Vegetariana. But the best way to sample the great variety of Spanish food is to spend an evening dining on tapas. Although some proficiency in Spanish is useful, the courage to give anything a try is more important, as you can simply point at what you fancy when you order your drink. The streets between Plaza Santa Ana and Sol are packed with tapas bars and some are renowned for particular specialities: try the chorizo in cider at Cervecería Alemana (Hemingway’s old hangout); garlic prawns at La Costa de Vejer; red-pepper salad at La Taurina; the patatas bravas (‘savage potatoes) at Las Bravas…
The most cost-effective meals are usually the midday menus del dia, which often consist of a choice of three courses, with wine, followed by dessert or coffee for around ₤6.
Probably most interesting typical custom is "ir de tapas". What does it mean? With friends (better) or alone, you go to a bar and have a drink; may be a "caña" (beer), a cup of wine, a cocktail or a soda. The drink comes with little dishes called "tapas" (olives, ham, peanuts, "tortilla"...) and some places are famous for their dishes, so you must go for one bar to the other!
Probablemente, la costumbre típica más interesante sea "ir de tapas". ¿Qué significa? Con amigos (mejor) o solo, vas a un bar y tomas algo; puede ser una "caña" (cerveza), una copa de vino, un cóctel o un refresco. La bebida viene con unos platitos llamados "tapas" (aceitunas, jamón, maníes, tortilla...) y algunos sitios son famosos por sus platos, por lo que debes ir de un bar a otro!
Don't miss this tasty and very typical, but little-known-to-tourists, snack. All around the Plaza Mayor, and Atocha train station, you´ll see signs for "Bocadillos de Calamares," or Calamari sandwiches! It might sound strange, but try it with a cold beer and you've got a cheap lunch. Bocadillos should be around €2.00 or €2.50. They might be more expensive right inside Plaza Mayor.
They say we have the highest rate of bars per habitants in all Europe!! (I think it's in all the world). In the city center you will find 3 or 4 bars in every block. Always full for breakfasts, tapas, a quick beer, bocadillos, another coffee...
Don't feel ashamed of throwing used tissues or olive bones to the floor, as it is a normal way of acting (and I don't feel very comfortable about that!). Anyway, they usually clean the floor quite often.
This tip is for a great new website in English called CataVino. It has lots of information on Spanish and Portuguese wines. Includes some nice links and tasting notes and lots more.
Since Spain is known for its wine and is now being rediscovered, why not learn something about it before coming?
One of the attractions in Madrid are the famous squid sandwich, yeah ! seems weird because i guess that sort of sandwich just exists in the capital.. but its true.. its quite good, a little bit dry and tasteless but enjoyable.. and closer to Plaza Mayor will get it for 2 eur .. its just a deal !!
It's a fact that Madrileños love to stay out really late. They eat, they drink and dance till the wee hours, and then they eat chocolate con churros. (I guess they just dance off the fat.)
San Gines is a famous churreria. (Go on, try to pronounce that!) On our big night out in Madrid, it was our last stop. Sure we hadn't danced and drunk till dawn, but that didn't stop us!
Personally, I don't like churros and am not a huge chocolate fan, so I passed. However, most of my friends indulged and apparently, they liked them!
A typical dish that must be tried Paella is a traditional dish of Spain. Its home is Valencia, but variations exist in the different Spanish provinces. A colorful mixture of saffron-flavored rice and various meats, paella’s name comes from the paellera, the flat, round pan in which it is cooked. Traditionally, the paella is cooked out of doors, over a wood fire. To make a paella, first sauté meats, such as chicken, pork, rabbit, or seafood, such as clams, shrimps, mussels, crayfish, or squid. Use olive oil and season with onions, garlic and herbs. Next, cook rice, tomatoes, and saffron, simmering over a low heat. Finally, mix in the meats and garnished with peas, pimientos, and other vegetables.
Pan con tomate was something I saw many Spaniards eat for breakfast. It's toasted bread with crushed tomatoes and olive oil. I tried and it was yummy! Pan con tomate can also be an appetizer or part of a tapas dish.